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The new Plant High takes a bit longer

Most of the school's renovations will be done in about two weeks, but heating and air conditioning upgrades are to be ready for the new school year.

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2002


PALMA CEIA -- The trailer park of portable classrooms rimming Plant High will stay in place at least until August as yet more repairs are made to the historic school at 2419 S Himes Ave.

That was news to principal Eric Bergholm when he returned from winter break, ready to see an end to the $13.5-million construction and renovation begun in May 2000.

Instead he learned more hammering and drilling was to come.

What changed? The school district found money to pay for new heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment in South Hall, the media center and the administration office. Carpet may be replaced as well.

The additional work will cost approximately $550,000.

Teachers and students will adapt, Bergholm said. They got used to moving in and out of the 74-year-old Main Hall while workers painted, rewired, refloored and replaced windows, ceilings, roofing and air conditioning.

The South Hall repairs had been put on hold.

"Replacing the HVAC in South Hall was proposed as part of the original project but taken out to stay on budget," said architect and project manager Alice Sutton. "We prioritized the needs of the school and put it back in."

Sutton is hopeful the new project will be done when school begins Aug. 7.

All of South Hall will be emptied. Teachers in that wing will pack and relocate to the portables.

At least the student parking shortage has been resolved. With 32 trailers occupying what used to be a student parking lot, homeowners complained about students blocking their driveways, parking illegally and littering.

Opening a temporary lot in a physical education field created about 100 spaces and appeased students and neighbors.

- Amy Scherzer can be reached at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com.

Nuts and bolts

Plant High's $13.5-million building project should be finished in about two weeks.

It began with construction of a new, 2,000-seat gymnasium, locker rooms and six classrooms. The 40,000-square-foot addition was finished in August, at a cost of $4 million.

Another $7-million was spent to renovate the school's 160,000-square-foot primary classroom building and auditorium. What's left from the $13.5 million will pay for fixtures, furniture and equipment.

Next up: a new project. The school will spend $550,000 to upgrade heating and air-conditioning systems in the South Hall, the media center and administrative offices.

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